Each year, October and November infect me with a running bug, as I am sure they do for many of you. With all of the hype surrounding the big city marathons in autumn, particularly the New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and Marine Corps Marathon, these months are the time when new runners are born, experienced runners venture into new distances, and seasoned marathoners toe the finish line after months of arduous training.
I love watching Chicago and New York on TV each fall (although I missed Chicago this year because of my RRCA training seminar). The inspiration is inescapable. However, the chances of me personally ever running those races are low. In addition to the fact that those races literally take place thousands of miles from my home in the north Eastside of Seattle, the crowds of 30-50,000 runners spark my claustrophobia.
Chicago and New York are amazing races, with incomparable spectator support, the best of the best elites, and legendary histories of world records. However, entry to these races is not guaranteed (both have a system of qualifying times and lottery). If you can get in, there is still the fact that these big marathons are expensive (especially if you are traveling) and crowded. Thankfully, there are several great fall marathons beyond Chicago and New York City. Whether you’re already looking to plan out your 2016 race calendar (am I the only one who starts that super early?) or want to save this as a resource for next year, here are some of the must-run fall marathons in America beyond Chicago and New York City. These races still provide the big city feel, but without the crowds.
Obviously, I have not run all of these races. These are only a small sampling of the many great fall races across the country; no matter where you live, you’re sure to find a good race! Many of these races include popular half marathons as well!
1. Hartford Marathon
Reviewers on Marathon Guide rave about the Hartford Marathon. Cool temperatures and a flat course make this small Connecticut race ideal for anyone pursuing a PR, and the fall foliage and delicious array of post-race food will please all runners. The race includes a full marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, and a 5K; the marathon costs $90-125, depending on when you register.
2. Wineglass Marathon
From a hand-crafted glass medal to a win to a beautiful course through New York wine country, the Wineglass Marathon is a fast and flat (slightly net downhill) race that attracts runners and wine lovers alike. Registration for this increasingly popular marathon costs $80-135 based on when you sign up; you can also run a half marathon and 5K.
3. Twin Cities Marathon
Despite its harsh winters, the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is known for its running. The Twin Cities Marathon boasts that it is “the most beautiful urban marathon in America,” as runners enjoy a course that winds around rivers, lakes, and parks before finishing at the state capitol building. If you’re cold after the race, you can sip on free broth and Caribou Coffee before meeting up with your family at the 27th mile party. The weekend includes 10 mile, 10K, and 5K races in addition to the marathon.
4. Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
If the Chicago Marathon is your dream race, consider the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon as well. This urban race features a flat and fast course that is perfect for your new marathon PR. From a former Hoosier, be warned though: November can be quite chilly in Indiana, so this is the race to break out all your favorite cold weather running gear. Marathon registration costs $110, with half marathon and 5K races as well.
5. Detroit Free Press Marathon
Want to run in two countries during the same race? Look no further than the Detroit Free Press Marathon! The race begins in Detroit, crosses over the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Canada, and then returns to the US through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The weekend also includes the popular half marathon. After you finish in Greektown, enjoy some of the city’s incredible Greek food as a post-race treat.
6. Seattle Marathon
If you seek hills, then the Amica Seattle Marathon is the marathon for you. This rolling hills race takes place every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving, so you will be well carb-loaded at the start. You will run throughout Seattle, over Lake Washington, and onto Mercer Island and back, all while enjoying the cool and calm weather along the Puget Sound and the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest. Registration ranges from $80-150, depending on when you register.
7. Portland Marathon
If you want the temperate climate and gorgeous scenery of the Pacific Northwest but prefer a flatter race, try the Portland Marathon. Musicians line the side of the course to provide entertainment and your climb up the St. John’s Bridge suspension bridge rewards you with a breath-taking view of Mts. Hood, Helen, and Rainier. When you finish, this green city gives you a rose and your own tree sapling. Registration costs $135 and there is a highly popular half marathon as well. (If you’re a new reader, you can read my recap of the 2015 Portland Marathon here.)
8. California International Marathon
Make the most of the pleasant fall weather for your training and run this Sacramento race in early December. The California International Marathon is fast course with gently rolling hills, attracting first time marathoners and Boston Qualifiers alike from across the country. The marathon offers a 4-person relay option as well. Those within range of their Boston Qualifying times have guaranteed entry on this popular race. Registration ranges from $80-$175, depending on when you register. (read my recap of running my first BQ at the 2016 race here.)
Are you running a fall marathon? Learn more about my run coaching services here!
Questions of the Day:
What marathons and half marathons would you add to this list?
Have you ever done any of these races? What did you think of it/them?
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